An understanding of a leader's approach to their team is vital to an understanding of the team as a whole, as discussed in the Leadership Styles section. As important as the leader's demands on their team are, though, equally important to the workings of the team are the team's demands on their leader. Each type of team will react differently to, and have different expectations from, a leader. From this, we can draw two important conclusions:
- There is no such thing as a perfect leader. As the demands of team members on their leader differ, so the ideal leadership style for the team differs also. Leaders who may be entirely unsuitable for one team may prosper when leading another, and vice versa.
- If a team's leader can come to an understanding of their team's expectations and demands, either as a group or as individuals, and adapt to these, the effectiveness of their leadership can be expected to improve.
Leadership demands can be interpreted by examining a team's Team Profile. Each of the four main factors of Direction, Communication, Stability and Productivity relate to a different basic leadership need.
- Responsibility & Respect are demands usually associated with Directed teams. Where this appears as an important element of the team's leadership needs, the members are looking for a means of expressing their assertive styles and their desire for responsibility. A leader who can delegate effectively, and be prepared to allow members to take individual responsibility for their own projects, will do well in such a team.
- Praise & Appreciation are seen where Communication is an important factor in the team's make-up. In such a team, the leader will reap rewards by expressly showing gratitude and appreciation for individual members' efforts. Members of such teams tend to enjoy informal relations with one another and with their leader - if the leader can foster such relations, while maintaining their position of authority, then the team should work positively.
- Patience & Consistency are elements of a Stable team's leadership demands. Such teams will look for a consistent and predictable working environment. Sudden changes of direction or policy, however necessary or justified, are difficult for such teams to adapt to successfully. The members here will also be looking for support from their leader, and will hope to be able to bring specific problems directly to the leader for resolution.
- Detail & Explanation relate to Productive teams. The members of such teams work poorly when they do not have a clear idea of their situation (whether in terms of their role within the team, the leader's expectations of them, or the circumstances of their current work). To gain the greatest motivation from such teams, careful explanation, and a willingness to provide detailed information, should enhance the team's performance.
As with Leadership Styles, these four aspects represent the fundamental elements of the leadership needs. True Team Profiles tend to highlight more than one factor, however, and have correspondingly more intricate combinations of leadership needs. Discus will provide a specific interpretation of these needs depending on the precise configuration of the Team Profile.